Tuscan Orzo Salad

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I’m happy to announce that I will be doing some writing for DailyBurn, a fitness start-up focused on helping you get to a better, stronger, healthier you.

If you’re looking for a way to use up some of summer’s last bounty, check out this Tuscan Orzo Salad. Combining ripe tomatoes with fresh arugula and shaved Pecorino Romano cheese is my version of bliss.

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Snickerdoodle Blondies

My father had a hard time grasping the name of these Snickerdoodle Blondies.

“Doodly-whats?”

“Snoodles?”

In fact, the etymology for snickerdoodle shows a similarity to the German word for snail (Schneke), but it could also simply be a 19th century English word for an easily-made treat. Ultimately, who really cares? It’s all about taste in my book, and these chewy bar cookies hit the right spot. Typically snickerdoodles are found in cookie form, so this is a nice variation to try. Made in one bowl with pantry staples, these are one of the easiest desserts I have made. Of course, don’t skimp on the cinnamon sugar topping–this is what makes your home smell delicious, while also providing a sweet and spicy crunch.

Snickerdoodle Blondies

Adapted from Baking Bites

For bars:

1 stick salted butter

1 cup sugar

1 egg

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup all-purpose flour

For topping:

1 tbsp sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8×8″ baking pan.

In large bowl, mix butter and sugar until creamy and fluffy. Stir in salt, egg, and vanilla. Add in flour. Evenly pour mixture into greased pan. Stir together the topping ingredients and sprinkle on top of batter. Bake for 30 minutes until edges turn golden. Let cool in pan before cutting into squares.


Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

It is the first day of October, which means I can truly accept that it is autumn, ushering in spicy flavors, Halloween candy sugar-highs, and hearty soups. The grocery store is filled with Candy Corn (and Candy Corn Oreos), gourds, bags of Milky Ways to fill the entire milky way, and cans of the orange purée commonly known as pumpkin.

I snagged a few cans of pumpkin–fearful that another pumpkin shortage would occur this year–and I set out to make Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting. Because of the pumpkin, the cake is moist. The nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves are, as usual, the perfect accompaniment to the pumpkin. Be advised that the smells wafting from your oven will attract many. The sweet, and slightly tangy, cream cheese frosting makes this dessert complete.

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Adapted from Ming Makes Cupcakes

Makes 2 dozen

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp soda

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp salt

2 pinches nutmeg

2 pinches cloves

2 cups sugar

2 eggs

1 cup oil

2 cups pumpkin

For frosting:

8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature

1/2 cup butter, room temperature

1 lb. confectioner’s sugar

1 tsp vanilla

Walnuts, optional

In medium-sized bowl, mix flour, baking soda, spices, and salt. 

In a separate bowl, mix sugar and eggs. Add oil and mix well. Add flour mixture to wet mixture, then add pumpkin. Mix until well blended. 

Pour into lined cupcake tin and bake for 30 minutes.

While baking, prepare frosting by mixing the ingredients by hand. Whip until fluffy. Top cooled cupcakes with frosting and garnish with a walnut.